So what did you do for Christmas?
Nothing much. Went up to see my wife’s family. Came back and talked to my parents. Ate a lot of food.
For me, this answer conjures up images of suburbs, driving through the snow (though it could also be palm trees), maybe an airport, relatives you don’t see enough, a turkey. It means college football or basketball or a burning log or Christmas carols on TV, though nobody watches. It means Protestant or Catholic or American non-religious.
Now, this is my Christmas.
We took two trains to my wife’s hometown.
We celebrated Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. This is traditional in Sweden.
We ate all the traditional food. Except the ham. Instead we had turkey.
Because we celebrated with three Muslims.
We spent Christmas Eve in a hotel and watched Karl-Bertil, who I wrote about yesterday. On Christmas morning, we ate a breakfast alone in the hotel restaurant then took a bus to a scruffy part of town to see her mother. Who wasn’t there. At 8am on Christmas morning. After we had agreed on the time. Repeatedly. And this was the third time this has happened in a year (she is mentally ill).
We walked back to town, nearly breaking my 35-week pregnant wife. Took another two trains home.
Then did a video call with my parents and my grandfather. They actually sat there and watched NK open a bunch of presents.
I realize that in America, this Christmas is not that strange. There are plenty of multicultural, multi-religious families, plenty of families with unreliable relatives, plenty of long distance video calls.
But mine never was, at least on the surface. And I think that most countries had a dominant cultural identity, even if there has always been swirling of traditions and cultures on the edges. But that is changing now. I just had to move to Sweden to get moved out of that dominant cultural place, into what the world is becoming. Flat. Post-American. All that.
Ho ho ho!